Roger's day out

One day Roger’s school had an outing to a stately home in the countryside.

As their bus made its way towards the grand old house Roger had the strangest feeling that he’d been there before. As they turned into the long winding drive before they could see the house Roger turned to his friend Norah and told her it had three chimneys and a carving of a bird and a dragon over the front door. Roger and Norah were both surprised to find his description was completely accurate.

They got off the bus and entered the house. Teacher told them that a guide would give them a tour of the house and that they could ask any questions they liked. The guide began taking them around the house and describing the history of each room. They came to a large room with several rows of long tables with chairs. The guide told them this was the banqueting hall.

Before he knew it Roger interrupted her, “No, this was an indoor tennis court.”

The guide looked surprised. “That’s right, young man”, she said, “originally this room was a tennis court but Lord Norchester enjoyed parties more than sport so he converted into a banqueting hall in 1749.”

The tour continued and they came to a room full of books. “And as you can see”, said the guide, “this was the library.”

Again Roger couldn’t help himself interrupting. “It was a bedroom”, he said insistently.

Again the guide looked surprised. “You’re right. It used to be the guest bedroom, but Lord Fulchester enjoyed books more than visitors so he converted it into a library in 1781. Has your teacher been telling you the history of this house?”

Roger and teacher both shook their heads.

A little later they came to a gallery full of portraits of former owners of the house. The guide described who each picture was. When she came to a picture of a stern looking red-haired man Roger started to cry. He was so upset Norah took his hand and led him from the room. From outside they could hear the guide describing how Lord Wilchester used to beat his children with a stick.

After the tour they went outside for a picnic lunch. It was a lovely summer’s afternoon and the children ran and played in the warm sunshine, but Roger just sat quietly wondering how he could know so much about a house he’d never been to before.

After lunch teacher told the children they could explore the house and the grounds on their own and that they should all meet by the bus at 3pm.

Roger and Norah went back inside the house. Roger took Norah along a corridor that hadn’t been in the tour. They went down some stone steps and through a network of dark narrow passageways. They turned left and right and right and left until they came to an old winding stone staircase. Roger started to climb. “No”, said Norah, “I feel scared.”

But Roger held her hand and told her he knew where he was going. At the top of the stairs was a big wooden door. Roger tried to open it but it was locked. He pushed and pushed but it would not budge. Again Roger started to cry.

“Let’s ask the guide if we can see inside”, suggested Norah, “but you’ll have to guide me out of here.”

Roger led Norah back down the stone stairs and through the dark passageways until they found teacher. They told him what they’d found and asked if he could get the guide to open the door.

“Perhaps it’s locked because it’s dangerous”, said teacher.

But Roger was most insistent he wanted to go through the door. And so they all went to ask the guide.

“I’m not sure I know where you’re talking about”, she said, but she took a set of keys from a cupboard and followed Roger with the others. “These keys fit every room in the house”, she said.

“I’ve worked here for more than twenty years” said the guide, “but I’ve never been up here before.”

She tried the keys one by one but none of them opened the big wooden door. “I think this room’s been forgotten and the lock’s rusted”, she said.

Just then Roger seemed to remember something. He went over to the stone wall and reached for two stones which were loose. Roger gently pulled them apart and slowly the big wooden door opened.

Inside was covered with dust and cobwebs. There was a rocking horse, and a child’s piano and lots of old fashioned picture books. In one corner was a blackboard and a small desk and chair. But the biggest surprise was a picture on the wall of a little boy. He looked just like Roger.

Next Roger's dream